Europe demands probe of mass arrests in Chechnya

Chechnya’s brutal attacks, arrests and detentions imposed on its LGBTI citizens have fallen out of the news, but haven’t been forgotten by the European Parliament.

The European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights reports:

European Parliament: Russia must address LGBTI persecution in Chechnya

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov denied the mass arrests of gay citizens, saying that "such people do not exist." (Photo courtesy of ABC News)
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov denied that mass arrests of gay citizens occurred, but did so by saying that “such people do not exist.” (Photo courtesy of ABC News)

Thursday, 8 February 2018 — In a resolution adopted today, the European Parliament has called on Russian authorities to end the campaign of persecution targeted at people perceived to be LGBTI in Chechnya.

The resolution highlights that this persecution campaign is “part of a worrying trend of arrests, attacks, intimidations and discreditations”, targeting not only (perceived) LGBTI people, but human rights defenders and journalists as well. (par. 5, 12)

Already in May 2017, the European Parliament condemned the arbitrary detentions and torture of (perceived) gay men in Chechnya.

Today, it reminds Russian authorities of the urgent need for immediate, independent, objective and thorough investigations, including by international human rights organisations. It also stresses the need to prosecute perpetrators of this violence and offer remedy to LGBTI victims. Finally, it welcomes the fact that some Member States have granted asylum to victims, and calls on other Member States to do so, in line with national and European law. (par. 12, 13)

Tanja Fajon, vice-President of the European Parliament's LGBTI Intergroup (Photo courtesy of Tirana Times)
Tanja Fajon, vice-president of the European Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup (Photo courtesy of Tirana Times)

Tanja Fajon MEP, co-author of the resolution and Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, reacted : “The first arbitrary detentions and acts of torture were brought to the world’s attention last year. The victims cannot wait any longer. The need for investigation, prosecution and reparation for these human rights violations is more urgent than ever.”

“Russia must address these acts of violence and LGBTIphobia and offer full protection to LGBTI people on its soil.”

Vice-President of the European Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup, Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, added: “Several victims have had no other option but to go abroad to find safety from this persecution. EU Member States should continue to facilitate or step up asylum request procedures for those persecuted because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, in accordance with EU law.”

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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